Monday, November 10, 2008

Forget Cleveland, Dvorak Rocks!

If you've ever tried to type on my computer (or if I was on yours and forgot to change the settings, sorry Mommy and Mr. Trizzle), you know that my keyboard's not like yours.

Your keyboard probably looks like this:

qwerty keyboard

My keyboard's keys look like that, but it acts like this:

dvorak keyboard

It's called Dvorak, and I absolutely love it!

I switched two summers ago, and it took me about 2 or 3 months to really learn the new layout.  But it was soooo worth the downtime!

On QWERTY, my typing speed was about 35 wpm.  I thought that was pretty good.  Boy, was I silly.  On Dvorak, I'm somewhere in the mid-60s.  HUGE difference.  Even better than that, my hands don't hurt even though I spend all day typing.  That's because my fingers do less stretching.

Dvorak has this nifty set up where all the vowels are on the home row of my left hand and the most used consonants are on the home row of my right hand.  I just bounce back and forth between hands.  :) happy little me

So what would make someone throw out two decades of typing experience for something strange and different?  Well, I'll tell you.

I grew up with a computer.  I was so young when we got our Commodore 64 that I don't remember not having a computer.  (We still have it by the way, chhh chhh chhh chhh chhh "you walked into a wall stupid.")  So I taught myself to type.  Even though we had typing tutor games like Kids on Keys, I didn't learn the correct finger positions.  By the time we had typing class in middle school, I could type without looking but still poked at the keyboard.  (In some ways, that was almost more impressive than touch typing.)  But I couldn't touch type.

Years later, in law school, I tried to learn to touch type.  I discovered it was too late.  I also learned that I knew how to type words, not letters.  I didn't really know where the letters on the keyboard were, I knew where to put my fingers to type certain words.  That explained why I always had the same typos and spelling errors, even if I actually knew how to spell the word.

Then Mr. Trizzle started talking about this Dvorak thing.  He knows a lot about computers and tech stuff and is often trying out new things.  (And getting me to try them, too, and then deciding they're not that great after I've started using them...)  He was talking about how it's supposed to be so much easier to type and so much better for your hands.  So I read about it, found an online typing test and started learning.  And now I'm hooked.

Want to Try It?

You can try Dvorak, too.  Here's how.  (I use XP, so that's what my instructions are based on.)

I suggest first going into Accessories --> Accessibility and opening the on-screen keyboard.  This will help you know what keys to press and will let you know which keyboard is active.

Next, go to Control Panel --> Regional and Language Options.  (I know you might want to go to keyboard, but that's not right.  Normally, different keyboards are used in different parts of the world, so it's a regional or language thing.)

Select the Languages tab.  Click on the Details button.  Your drop down menu in the top of the window should say English (United States) - US.  If you try to drop down the list, there won't be anything else.

In the lower part of the window, click the Add... button.  Click the box next to Keyboard layout/IME:  Select United States-Dvorak from the drop down menu.  Click OK.  Unless you're ready to go crazy, leave US as your default (signified by bold font). 

Click the Key Settings... button.  This allows you to set up your system so you can toggle between keyboard layouts.   There should be a line that says "Switch between input languages".  Click on this so it's highlighted.  Then click on the Change Key Sequence... button.  Select the key sequence you want to use for changing keyboard layout.  I like to use Ctrl+Shift.  The only bad thing about this is that sometimes you might hit the two together accidentally and not know what happened and have to text your sister in Italy to try to fix it.  Click on OK and Apply buttons until you've closed out all your windows.  You should now be ready to type in Dvorak.

Open something that allows you to type, like Word or Wordpad or Typepad.  Check your on-screen keyboard to see what layout you're in.  Hit your switch keys (i.e. Ctrl+Shift) and check your onscreen keyboard to make sure it changed to Dvorak if it was in Qwerty.  Start typing!  And let me know how you like it!


MaryRuth said...

Because you use Dvorak, Christopher Latham Sholes, a MILWAUKEEAN, is rolling in his grave! For shame!
Nah...just kidding... I am too far gone to learn another system.

goldenrail said...

But MR, as times change, the technology needs to adapt, and Sholes and Dvorak based on opposite uses of the same knowledge. Sholes had to spread the most common letters out to slow ppl down. Technology over came the limitations that required this, so Dvorak was able to arrange the most common letters to speed ppl up. I highly doubt that Dvorak's layout would be accepted at all if we hadn't had Sholes' layout. If we typed with a keypad in alphabetical order, Dvorak's arrangement would seem to weird. But since we're already used to a big mess of letters, a different big mess of letters doesn't seem that far fetched.

Jeannie said...

At least now I know the key combination to change it back! I think this dog is too old to learn new tricks on the keyboard. But I think I type by words, for the most part, too. However, it doesn't help when one hand is faster than the other, or the keys stick a little. Hence my 'the' often ends up as 't he' with the t attached to the end of the prior word. Spellcheck catches the first word in most cases, but would leave the 'he' alone. Thank heavens for spellcheck!